March 22, 2012 at 10:05 am EDT | by Kevin M. Norris
Sex in the city

Sex is fun but it also yields health benefits.

Is baseball really the greatest American pastime? Perhaps there is at least one other favorite pastime — sex.

Sex, of course, is fun and it thankfully defies age, gender and sexual orientation. But what are the health benefits of it and can a thriving sex life enhance your level of fitness? Let’s find out.

Sex requires a degree of physicality that, of course, varies on type and position. Some require more strength and endurance than others. The good news is that anyone of any fitness level can have sex — just be sure to always consult with your doctor before engaging in any form of physical activity.

And while sex may not require any basic level of fitness, it involves four notable areas of fitness:  cardio endurance, muscular endurance, strength and flexibility.

For enthusiastic sex, a good cardiovascular foundation is essential. Get too aggressive without having some degree of cardiovascular ability and you will be huffing and puffing and wear yourself out prematurely.

For what I will call “gymnastic sex,”  you’ll need muscular strength and often some advanced levels of flexibility. After all, holding certain positions are easier when one is strong and being limber allows you to engage in your favorite Twister-like positions with greater ease and comfort.

There’s nothing worse than a muscle cramp in the midst of it all. And while stopping and starting can be good practice for certain muscles of the pelvic floor both for men and women, continuous rhythm and momentum will burn more calories and just might be a better ride. About 53 calories are burned per half hour of sex.

Sex also stimulates the release of certain brain chemicals — neurotransmitters that are feel good chemicals in your brain, especially the release of the ever powerful euphoria-inducing endorphins; dopamine and nor epinephrine and the chemicals cortisone and estrogen which, while more prevalent in women, is also released in men albeit in much smaller amounts. Endorphins act as the body’s natural pain relievers and cortisone has anti-flammatory effects.

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